November 25, 2020

Volleyball sweeps MacMurray, SLIAC record at 6-1

The win streak is up to 12 sets in a row for the Webster University volleyball team.

Yet four-straight match wins still leaves the Gorloks in third place in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. On Tuesday, Sept. 25, Webster dominated another conference opponent, MacMurray College with a 3-0 win, 25-17, 25-12, 25-14. The victory puts Webster at 7-6 on the season.

Webster peaked over the weekend when it held Fontbonne University to only three points in the third and final set of the match.

Sophomore outside hitter Jenny Howard (center) spikes the ball past MacMurray outside hitter Carmen Lanham (15) during the Gorloks’ 3-0 win on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Grant Gymnasium. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS.

“That’s probably the best set I’ve seen in a very long time,” coach Merry Graf said. “We actually gave them their three sole points because we made mistakes.”

Jenny Howard, a sophomore outside hitter, led all attackers with nine kills against Fontbonne.

Not only is the goal to win matches, but Webster players now judge their success on SLIAC Player of the Week awards. Howard and Liz Abraham, a junior defensive specialist, both earned the Player of the Week awards for Sept. 17 to 23. Abraham earned the defensive honors, while Howard keeps the offensive title for the second consecutive week.

“It’s just a goal of ours to have at least one player get the award each week,” Abraham said. “Hopefully (I can win it again). I still have to play good over the weekend.”

The new week started with Tuesday’s match against MacMurray at Grant Gymnasium, and the offensive award may switch owners. Sam Kersting, a sophomore middle hitter, led the team with six kills — Howard trailed her by one.

“I feel pretty fantastic,” Kersting said. “We have a lot of competition within our team and we all want to get Player of the Week.”

Kersting is playing in her first season with Webster after transferring from Indiana State University. She leads her new team in kills with 94 and is second in blocks with 24. The move has been an easy one since she has played with multiple Webster teammates on other teams.

“I knew a lot of the girls before and I was going to come here my freshman year,” Kersting said. “I like them and it seems to fit.”

Graf came into the MacMurray match wanting a three-game sweep and to shut down the top Highlander attacker, Taylor Soat, a middle hitter.

“We want to give them no hope,” Graf said. “Their best hitter and blocker is a middle (hitter), Soat. We have some very talented middle (hitters) as well, so we’ll make sure we shut her down early.”

Webster succeeded in both. Soat averages more than four kills per set but had only 2.3 kills per set against Webster.

In the seven conference matches Webster has played this season, only once was there a fourth set played — the rest have all been won or lost in three. While they may not be used to long matches, Graf said that it just means the Gorloks have “gas in the tank.”

“We’ve had some years when we go five (sets) a lot and some years haven’t,” Graf said. “I’ll take a three-set win anytime.”

Webster, even with a 3-0 conference record this week, still trails Principia College and Greenville College in the SLIAC standings. Greenville and Principia also went 3-0 in conference play this week to hold their positions.

The Gorloks will take their winning streak on the road to Illinois College on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.

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